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LWV National Organization

The League of Women Voters (LWV) was founded by Carrie Chapman Catt in 1920 during the convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. The convention was held  six months before the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, giving women the right to vote after a 72-year struggle.

The LWV was designed to help 20 million women carry out their new responsibilities as voters. It encouraged them to use their new power to participate in shaping public policy.

From the beginning, the LWV has been an activist, grassroots organization whose leaders believed that citizens should play a critical role in advocacy. It was then, and is now, a nonpartisan organization. LWV founders believed that maintaining a nonpartisan stance would protect the new organization from becoming mired in the party politics. LWV encouraged members to be politically aware and engaged individuals. LWV educated citizens about, and lobbied for, government and social reform legislation.

This holds true today. The LWV is proud to be nonpartisan, neither supporting nor opposing candidates or political parties at any level of government, but always working on vital issues of concern to members and the public. The LWV has a long, rich history, that continues with each passing year.

Woodbury Cottage Grove Area League

Following Woodbury’s incorporation in 1967, a group of women took the first steps to form a local chapter of the League of Women Voters. Forty-one women comprised the Provisional League in January 1969. In November 1970, the Woodbury League of Women Voters became part of the fifty-year-old national organization. In 1980, the Woodbury and Cottage Grove Leagues merged.

Taking a look back at the local League’s first decade of existence provides a picture of a very different world.  Most members lived in the then-new developments of Park Hills and Royal Oaks; most were stay-at-home moms. As a result, unit meetings met during the day in neighbors’ homes.  Communication occurred via landlines, and publications were typed on a typewriter, duplicated via ditto machines, and colored by hand.

Life changes, and so has our local League. Many women now work outside the home; technology has brought many new forms of communication. However, one area has remained the same: the League’s mission. The purpose of the League is to promote political responsibility through active participation by informed citizens. Past actions of the local League show work with issues facing the city, the school district, the environment, housing, and aging.

Past work included efforts with the city and school district. In 1972, the local League supported the park bond issue.  A study in 1992 led to a position encouraging public/private partnerships for park and recreational facilities.  A 1974 survey of School District 833 led to positions favoring smaller elementary class sizes and support for a high-potential program. In 1982, the League supported the middle school concept.

The League has given direction with ecology and housing as well. Past work includes support for local water management (1984 study) and efforts to promote solid waste recycling (1988).  From 2001-2004, the local League focused on affordable housing issues.  The years 2004-2006 found the local League broadening its scope to work more closely with other affordable housing advocacy groups.

The League turned its focus to the needs of senior citizens in 2008 by completing a study called Aging with Dignity.  Based on citizens’ requests, the League has updated these findings via public meetings and listening sessions.  A particular focus was seniors’ transportation and communication needs as they affect social, medical, physical, and mental well-being.

Informing the community is a significant calling of the League.  The League sponsors community forums to discuss timely issues with speakers.  One of the most popular of these forums is the January brunch featuring the incumbent state senators and representatives.

The League is best-known for bipartisan candidates’ forums, which gives citizens the opportunity to learn about candidates for school district, city, county, and state offices. The Woodbury, Cottage Grove Area League of Women Voters has organized and sponsored over one hundred candidates’ forums throughout its history. Originally held in school cafeterias, forums are now hosted in facilities allowing cablecasts of the discussions.  Check the local League’s current events calendar to see where and when area candidates’ forums will be held.

Past and present members of WCGA have served their communities in many ways.

Here is a list of some of them:
Metropolitan Council Chair:  Nora Slawik
Minnesota State Senate: Karla Bigham, Susan Kent, Katie Sieben
Minnesota State House: Karla Bigham, Kelly Fenton, Steve Sandell, Katie Sieben, Nora Slawik, JoAnn Ward
Washington County Commissioner: Karla Bigham, Stan Karwoski, Myra Peterson
Washington County Library Board: Katherine Cram, Nancy Remakel 
Coralville, Iowa, City Council: Julia Lyon
Cottage Grove City Council: Karla Bigham, LaRae Mills
Maplewood Mayor: Nora Slawik
Newport City Council: Judy Woods
Woodbury City Council: Fran Moore, Nancy Remakel
Woodbury Planning Commission: Nancy Remakel, Karen Snedeker, Judy Trepka 
Woodbury Parks & Recreation Commission: Lynne Markus, Nancy Remakel
Woodbury Waste Management Board: Nancy Ellison, Phyllis Letendre, Ann Marshall
Woodbury Environmental Education Commission:  Lynne Markus
Metro Park & Open Space Commission: Kay Bannitt
Ramsey-Washington County Metro Watershed Advisory Board:  Phyllis Letendre
#833 ISD School Board: Marsha Adou, Sally Anderberg, Tracy Brunnette, Pat Jilk, Betsy Knoche, Katy McElwee-Stevens, Carlo Montgomery, Sharon Van Leer, Michelle Witte
League of Women Voters of Minnesota Executive Director:  Michelle Witte

League of Women Voters of Minnesota Advocacy Chair: Vivian Latimer Tanniehill

League of Women Voters of Minnesota Census & Redistricting Chair: Paul Huffman


REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMENT: Promote an open government system that represents, accountable and responsible responsive by exampling  issues such as voting rights, election processes, children’s rights and Congress and the Presidency.

SOCIAL POLICY: Secure equal rights and equal opportunities for all.  Promote social and economic justice and the health and safety of all Americans through the lens of issue areas of issue areas like equity of opportunity, financial policy, health care, immigration, meeting basic needs, child care, and early intervention for children at risk.

NATURAL RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENT: Promote an environment beneficial to life through the protections and wise management of natural resources in the public interest.

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONSHIPS: Promote peace in the interdependent world by working cooperatively with other nations and strengthening international organizations.

We Need Your Support Today!

Membership in LWV is open to anyone age sixteen and older. With nearly 800 state and local affiliates nationwide, LWV is where hands-on work to safeguard democracy leads to civic improvement! Join us in Making Democracy Work™!

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